Indonesian holiday island Bali reopens to scheduled flights

Special Indonesian holiday island Bali reopens to scheduled flights
Empty deck chairs by the beach in Sanur, near Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. (AFP/File)
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Updated 02 February 2022

Indonesian holiday island Bali reopens to scheduled flights

Indonesian holiday island Bali reopens to scheduled flights
  • Island has had no international arrivals since March 2020
  • First flight to Bali with foreign travelers scheduled from Japan on Thursday

JAKARTA: Indonesia will finally see international arrivals return to Bali this week, an airport official has confirmed, as the first flight is scheduled to touch down from Japan on Thursday.

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar officially opened to visitors from several countries, including China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, in mid-October, but it has not received any international arrivals since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.

The Indonesian government announced this week that Bali would finally welcome foreign visitors again.

Taufan Yudhistira, a spokesman for the airport, told Arab News that a Garuda Indonesia flight from Japan’s Narita International Airport was scheduled to land in Denpasar on Thursday.

He said: “Previously, we had already served irregular flights like charters and cargo. But in the near future there are scheduled regular flights, and this would be the first (since the start of the coronavirus pandemic).”

Yudhistira added that airlines had already acquired permits for another three flights.

Garuda Indonesia will operate flights from Japan’s Haneda Airport, while Singapore Airlines and Batik Air will fly from Singapore.

Singapore Airlines announced last week that its Bali operations would resume on Feb. 16.

Bali’s economy is largely dependent on the tourism sector, which contributes more than half of the province’s gross domestic product. In 2019, the island, known for its beaches, temples, and nightlife, welcomed around 6.2 million foreign visitors, mostly from Australia and China.

The coronavirus pandemic brought tourist activity to a halt, dealing a heavy blow not only to the local but also national economy.

International visitors vaccinated against COVID-19 are required to undergo a five- to seven-day quarantine period on arrival in Bali.

Bonik Ingunau, a tour guide and driver in Bali, welcomed the latest development, but hoped the government would waive quarantine requirements.

“We are hoping that the quarantine duration will be shortened to attract international travelers to visit Bali,” Ingunau told Arab News.

“This is our chance to revive Bali by making it even better than it used to be.”